2018 - a year of instability?
A trade war between China and the US, new tensions between Russia and the West, chaotic Brexit negotiations, an ever more powerful populist front in Europe and protests against the elites: the world has become an increasingly troubled place, commentators conclude at the end of 2018 and note that old certainties are no longer valid.
For Europe this was a particularly tumultuous year, Jutarnji list concludes:
“Since the leaden 1970s there probably hasn't been a year in which the political systems of all the big states of the Old Continent have been rocked by such huge tectonic shifts as this year. In the UK this disruptive effect is called Brexit. ... In France the newly elected president Emmanuel Macron attempted to begin his mandate with big plans for reforms in his own country and abroad, only to crash against the cliffs of public opinion. ... In Italy an odd coalition of populists and former right-wing, regional separatists came to power and immediately launched intobattle with Brussels and Europe's financial regulations.”
The illusion of a better world
Almost thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall the hope of a better future has turned out to be an illusion, laments the Swiss online newspaper Journal 21:
“The world has not become safer, just different: more complex, more fractured and threatened in a way that exceeds the limits of our imagination. The Americans and Israelis are putting up new walls, the Russians are setting up missiles against Nato countries, terrorists are haunting Christmas markets and people are drowning in the Mediterranean. No, this is not how we imagined things in 1989. Even if back then we didn't assume this would be the end of the story, we hoped it would be the end of global hostilities and the start of a more peaceful world. We hadn't reckoned with terrorism, cyber criminality and the resurgence of nationalism.”
Western democracies in trouble
The West must steel itself against increasing pressure from Russia and China, warns Maurizio Molinari, editor-in-chief of La Stampa:
“A comparison of the words and messages of Xi and Putin lead to the conclusion that both feel they are on the winning side of the affair and see the populist movements as the symptom of the unstoppable decline of the liberal democracies. They are offering themselves to the weaker states of the West as guarantors of security, promising to support them economically. Ultimately they are counting on the downfall of the rival business model so they can take over its strategic and economic advantages. It remains to be seen whether the democracies will understand and know how to react to this fearful challenge.”
Bad news for the stock markets
La Libre Belgique explains why 2018 was a particularly bad year for investors:
“The impending economic downturn, the political turmoil in Europe (Italy, Brexit), the central banks' more restrictive monetary policies, the trade war. ... Put an end to the bad news, investors already have enough to worry about! In this context it must be said that Donald Trump has done nothing to improve the situation. He who prided himself on the fact that the US stock markets have been in top form since the beginning of his term has had to eat his words in the last couple of months. Which hasn't stopped him from waging a disconcerting personal war with the president of the Federal Reserve over US monetary policy. All this is only adding to the uncertainty - or should we say the chaos - on the already disoriented markets.”